July 29, 2014

2013 Oscar Preview: Part Four

Does the name Bruce Beresford ring a bell?

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams — The Master
Sally Field — Lincoln
Anne Hathaway — Les Miserables
Helen Hunt — The Sessions
Jacki Weaver — Silver Linings Playbook

Will Win: Anne Hathaway
Should Win: Anne Hathaway

Before we even get to the 15 or so critics circle wins let’s just talk about the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics Choice awards oh, and the SAG award. This year has two locks, and she’s one.

If you’ve seen Les Mis you know exactly the moment when she wins this award, and kudos to Tom Hooper for making it in one continuous shot.

Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin — Argo
Robert De Niro — Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman — The Master
Tommy Lee Jones — Lincoln
Christoph Waltz — Django Unchained 

Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones
Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Kind of neck and neck for Jones and Waltz. Waltz has a BAFTA and a Golden Globe with 4 critics circle wins agains Jones’ 6 circles and a SAG award. But it’s the SAG that nails it for Jones. Most of the Academy are actors and SAG is, you know. That having been said, Hoffman’s 8 circles and Critics Choice award might come along and take advantage of the other two vote-splitting.

Here’s the thing. I haven’t actually gotten around to seeing Hoffman’s performance. But I have seen the other four. They are solid. But they are not surprising. Not from these actors in these roles. I have yet to not be surprised by Hoffman. Sight unseen, I can wager that there’s something revelatory.

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain — Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence — Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva — Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis — Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts — The Impossible

Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence
Should Win: Quvenzhane Wallis

While Lawrence seems the inevitable pick, especially with a SAG award and a Globe under her belt, keep in mind that Riva got the BAFTA and a ton of smaller wins, and Chastain got the other Globe and a ton of smaller wins, so either could upset.

To be fair, I have not seen Watts or Riva’s performance yet, and I suspect that Riva’s might be the best of the year, based on reports. But from what I have seen, I have seen nothing like what Wallis does with her performance. She has to carry a film that has no genre, no predictability, no linear narrative on which to pin our point of view. It is a portrait of a place more than a story, and she has to ground us in it. That’s an enormous challenge for an actor of any age, and she pulls it off incredibly, defiantly.

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper — Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis — Lincoln
Hugh Jackman — Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix — The Master
Denzel Washington — Flight

Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Before we even get into him winning every single possible award an actor can win before the Oscars thing, let’s just state for the record that Day-Lewis has won half the Best Actor Oscars for which he’s been nominated. So you could basically flip a coin at this point. But you don’t have to. Cos he’s gonna win. The second lock of the night.

Day-Lewis has also pretty much deserved all of the Oscars he’s been nominated for, so there’s that. Here the magic is in how he takes a character who should be The President, and really just tries to play a guy, with certain characteristics, with certain flaws, with certain doubts. And that guy happens to be Abraham Lincoln. And so we care when shit happens to him because Day-Lewis has gotten us to focus on the guy, not the figure.

Best Director

Michael Haneke — Amour
Ang Lee — Life of Pi
David O. Russell — Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg — Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin — Beasts of the Southern Wild

Will Win: Senor Spielbergo
Should Win: Do I really have to say it?

It’s funny, the two people with the most wins going into this are not represented here. Kathryn Bigelow was an early favorite when the initial awards season kudos had every best picture win going to Zero Dark Thirty and almost every best director win going to her. As the tide turned, every other critics circle win went to Argo and every other best director win went to Ben Affleck, and that trend continued into post-season with a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics Circle and, finally, a what used to be 90% predictive Directors Guild Award. But now all that’s thrown out the window and the biggest name here is Spielberg.

Ben Affleck did a fantastic job and has done a fantastic job over three films. And the good news is that probably means he’ll be back to The Show. And I won’t cry to see Spielberg win another statue. He’s my favorite director. And this is one of his better films. And the other nominated directors did good work. But all of that having been said…what the fuck?

Best Picture

Amour
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Argo

If I were looking at this strictly based on the numbers, I’d say Argo has won six critics circle awards, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a Critics Choice award and a (somewhat predictive) Producer’s Guild Award. Oddsmakers like it, too. The only reason I hesitate is because it is not nominated for Best Director. But then there are three little words. Driving. Miss. Daisy. I still remember the joke Billy Crystal made that night. Something like, “And then we have Driving Miss Daisy, a film which apparently directed itself.” Two other films have also pulled off winning Best Picture without the director being nominated for Best Director, Wings in 1929 and Grand Hotel in 1932, so it’s not impossible, just rare. And with this much momentum, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Affleck on that stage come Oscar night, just not as a director. If this still makes you nervous, though, bet on Lincoln.

You can read here how many different ways I loved Argo. The only way I wouldn’t give it the should here is if they nominated Cabin in the Woods.

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